Kyiv, Apr 12 (EFE).- Russian troops have forcibly deported around 20,000-30,000 civilians from the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol to Russian controlled territories, its mayor Vadym Boychenko has alleged.
Boychenko told local media outlets that around 50 percent of the nearly 540,000 residents of the port city have been evacuated, out of which nearly 60,000 left in recent days through humanitarian corridors towards Ukrainian territory controlled by Kyiv’s armed forces.
Nearly 140,000 civilians had managed to escape the city in the initial stages of the war, when the train services and highways had been operational.
Subsequently, over 100,000 have been evacuated through humanitarian corridors and with the help of volunteers, the mayor said, although stressing that many people were still in need of evacuation on the outskirts of the city.
Boychenko alleged that Russian troops had done everything possible to thwart efforts to establish an evacuation route, such as destroying 150 new buses, ensuring that “not a single bus was available in Mariupol.”
He said that public officials and volunteers have made announcement whenever it was possible to flee the city through a humanitarian corridor, as a much awaited ceasefire had never arrived and locals had fled through missiles and bombs exploding around them.
Some people drove, others walked towards he coast before being evacuated, first to Berdiansk and later to Zaporizhia in volunteer convoys or sharing vehicles, the mayor explained.
Boychenko said the number of Mariupol residents forcibly evacuated by Russian military was a preliminary estimate, as Moscow’s lists could not be trusted.
Mariupol, situated on the banks of the Sea of Azov, has been under siege from Russian troops since the invasion began on Feb 24
According to reports, more than 80 percent of the city’s buildings and infrastructure has been destroyed by bombing and the remaining (estimated) 100,000-160,000 residents do not have access to running water, gas, electricity, sufficient food and other basic amenities. EFE